Smart tourism VS Wise Tourism

Tourism is one of the sectors that has been most affected by COVID-19. Fear of traveling to distant destinations, closed borders between countries, and security regulations have strained the economic model of this sector. An economic model that therefore needs a profound re-invention to dynamically adapt to the current context.


In Peoplerise we have asked ourselves how this moment of paradigm breaking can represent an opportunity to create new models of sustainable tourism


Over-tourism VS sustainable tourism 


The expression over-tourism is commonly used to describe the negative impacts attributed to excess and congestion of tourists. In many places, this phenomenon has fostered conflicts with natives and the depletion of environmental resources, elements that in turn have impacted the satisfaction of tourists and the likelihood of their eventual return to the destination.



In the light of these critical issues, we therefore asked ourselves:


How can hospitality be offered at scale so that the bottom line is positive for all stakeholders (commercial and non-commercial)?


In fact, when this does not happen, the tourist destination is inexorably destined to lose appeal due to over-exploitation. In these cases, tourism is not able to regenerate the area that hosts it. The stocks of capital used to create demand for tourists and to offer them hospitality are greater than those derived from the same activities.


We believe that regenerative tourism truly can become an agent of positive transformation that contributes to improving the quality of our lives.

Artem-kniaz by Unsplash

A model of sustainable development


Human beings do not grow linearly: fortunately, when they stop growing in height, they begin to develop emotionally, socially and spiritually. 


This also happens in the different economic sectors. At a certain point, when one has grown up, one can try to become an adult as well. Within the mature sectors, it is the operators who know how to grasp the spirit of the times that gain ground, proposing offers connected with the needs of the eco-system to which they belong.


From this perspective, tourism can play an important role in helping us develop healthier relationships with our Planet Earth.


A perspective that considers the Nature as a set of resources to be exploited individually and in competition with others, can be replaced by a vision that recognizes the systemic interdependence of the various parts involved. This is the only way to nurture the abundance that comes from the flourishing collaboration and self-organization of the different resources: environmental, social and technological.


We have called this approach wise tourism, as opposed to the already established concept of smart tourism, which is focused on tourism development through the integration of smart technologies into the tourism experience.


On this topic, the UNWTO, the World Toursim Organization, has indicated some objectives for tourism operators in relation to the SDGs:

Wise tourism VS Smart Tourism


In this “post-smart” moment for tourist destinations, one of the key challenges is a fundamental shift in mindset. The focus on technology or environmental sustainability alone will not be enough; instead, it will be necessary to integrate these dimensions with other lenses of value generation – financial, social, intellectual and physical.  


The new generation of “wise tourist destinations” should adopt a network approach focused on people and collaboration with a broader ecosystem. An approach which is not dissimilar to the one adopted by wise cities, characterized by the ability to go beyond the urban sphere and create symbiotic relationships with neighboring “villages”, connecting the urban and rural areas through a more integrated regional approach.


Wise destinations could be those places where long-term visions are realized that go beyond the life span of residents or the mere satisfaction of tourists. Such an approach, however, requires new development frameworks that are interdisciplinary and involve different stakeholders.


Integrated Reporting Framework

Deep data VS big data


A second challenge for these wise destinations will be the technological integration with the social integration, enabling people to live fulfilling lives.


Such integration is possible by activating social processes that allow for a broadening of our own consciousness with respect to the systemic interdependencies present in the tourism sector, including those within ourselves, such as our forma mentis, mindset, and worldview.


The uniqueness of wisdom


In conclusion, wise tourism destinations can increase their resilience through:

Increasing the well-being of their residents and visitors, 

A broader regional eco-systemic approach to tourism innovation. 


It will be the attributes deriving from these initiatives that will make tourism destinations not only more attractive to visitors as short-term destinations, but also inherently more livable and, therefore, more attractive to new potential residents.


These characteristics will be closely linked to the “unique personality” that these cities-territories-regions will be able to give to their destinations, and thus make them more attractive and sustainable.


To learn more, here is the web-ate where I have discussed the topic with our friends at BYE for Making Future!

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